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Michael Holly
Michael Holly, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 7042
Experience:  I have 20 years of experience as a solicitor in litigation and other areas
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My sister has co-written a book (with a ‘professional’

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Hello, My sister has co-written a book (with a ‘professional’ author) about my 90yr old father's football career, he was unaware of some of the content - including references to his birth to a 17yr old white unmarried mother who he still refers to as his sister, and an unknown black father - not an issue today but in the 1920's it was. He has never discussed this, even with my late mother in 40yrs of marriage - so partly would like to ascertain what he can do if unhappy with the content.
However, my principal question today is that my sister has included a number of references to me, totally unrelated to my father's career, which are deliberately both mendacious and offensive. She has gone to great lengths to insult me and has insinuated that my conduct was improper (eg 'many boyfriends'), incompetent and uncaring - anyone who knows me well is aware that it is a fabrication and that I have always upheld the highest personal standards of conduct.
I realise that attempting to stop the distribution of the book (due out end Oct 2016) would be prohibitively expensive and would require petitioning for an injunction which would incur hefty legal charges, but I would like to know what other action I might be able to take. I have written to the publisher who is being co-operative in sending me a copy of the book in order that I can indicate content to which I object, but I would like to know if something can be published about me without my consent and the next step I can take. My father has recently been asked to sign an attestation that he is aware of the contents once my sister knew that I had sight of the material.My sister resides in the UK and the book is being published there, however I am resident in France. Very many thanks for your help.

There are 3 possible levels of response which vary in the amount of expense you need to incur

The first would be to sue in libel. This is notoriously expensive and uncertain as you have to show that what she has written is not only untrue but has damaged your reputation. This is why libel is known as the famous person's law because it means a public as opposed to private reputation and for that you need to be reasonably well known by the public at large.

The second option is to threaten libel proceedings unless you get a written retraction/ apology.

This may a certain amount of expense as it might require lawyers letters to try to achieve it.

The last course is to contact a newspaper and get them to write a story about how she has libelled you which has a nice poetic justice to it , it very cheap and may even involve you being paid for the story.

Best wishes


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Michael
Thank you for your response, I'll take your points in the order that you have made them.
I am not famous sadly - although possibly I would have been if I had done all the things my sister has suggested I had!
I do feel that it has damaged my reputation with people close to me and my family - frankly I don't think that there will be much appetite for this book, which is very badly written and poor in content, other than the family/friend circle - so to some extent I feel that I have to take some action to refute her comments as these are the only people who really matter to me.
I know that french privacy laws are more stringent than the UK's, and would be interested to know if the fact that I am resident here impacts on the situation?
I am looking at inexpensive options as I am aware that the cost of legal action could escalate - the problem in threatening action as I see it is that I would have to be prepared to follow through and my sister will be aware that I am far too prudent to risk this. Are you able to give me a ballpark figure regarding the likely cost of sending a letter please?
Is there an equivalent to the Small Claims Court to pursue this kind of action where I could represent myself for minimal cost?
Your final option is a stroke of genius which really appeals and I appreciate the suggestion and certainly something which I will investigate.
Thank you so much for your help - I would be grateful if you could give me guidance on the couple of questions above, but thinking that the latter proposal is possibly the most expedient and as you point out poetic justice.
Regards ***** *****
Sandra H

Dear *****

As a piece of litigation I would not recommend it, where to pitch the damages is the initial problem along with the other factors I have already raised.

I really did save the best for last


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Michael,
I will indeed pursue your suggestion, it looks so much more fun and considerably less stressful - in fact I have already started. I will send payment without delay and thank you again! Just for amusement I have included the first couple of paragraphs below - I'm not really sending all of it - and please excuse the expletives! I hope it will be read in the spirit it was intended.
Many thanks
Sandra"How to write a book about your Father……or not.
My wonderful Father-in-law who had a remarkable and distinguished career in not one, but three disciplines: Pharmacy, Chiropody and Ophthalmology in addition to his commercial astuteness, once-upon-a-time in his eighties took pen to paper – or rather more remarkably, to the PC keyboard to write a synopsis of his life to be shared amongst his extensive and adoring family and circle of friends.It was an absolute delight – he had reached a considerable age and for his progeny his wealth of stories of another time - for instance him having his tonsils removed on the kitchen table, proved riveting.
Despite the fact that he had rubbed shoulders with stars of the small screen and eminent academics, as a Yorkshireman with his typical humility and self-deprecation, he recognised that though well written and fascinating to his inner circle, his memoirs would be unlikely to have wider appeal, certainly not on a commercial basis.It was perhaps against this background then that I awaited with some anticipation, a book which my younger sister was covertly writing with an allegedly professional author about my Father’s long and fascinating career behind the scenes in English football.There was so much interesting and entertaining content which was ripe for inclusion – the characters and antics of colleagues in the days when football was more sport and less business, the deal-making and clandestine negotiations, the big names through the generations that he counted amongst his friends and last but definitely not least – Dad’s humorous observations of his experiences, he has always been something of a raconteur and can hold a room with his tales, his wit and sense of fun.So what did we get? Total and utter shitty lazily researched, ill thought out badly written fallacious crap that wouldn’t keep a ‘lifer’ entertained if he was locked up in solitary and had bugger all else to pass the time. In fact, given the choice he’d probably swallow the pages in an attempt to top himself by choking."